Bulletproof. No other way to put it. These knit shirts were bulletproof. I have no clue who made them for the Ruff Hewn folks but I’ve never met another knit shirt with the staying power of these babies. I found this white one in the bottom of my wash-dry-fold trunk the other day and figured that since it was a hygiene holiday, a beat-up, rough Ruff Hewn would be an appropriate topper.
The balance of the hygiene holiday rig included, from my bedroom floor, a pair of Flusser top-pocket silk-linen-cotton boondoggle togs now approaching ten years old. They are though, young’uns compared to the Ruff Hewn knit. Unfortunately, the Hewn knit, in its dotage, can no longer manifest a popped collar. And Medicaid doesn’t reimburse for the necessary Pharma interventions to make it perky again. You want perky, you pay cash outta pocket.
And surely, why not add to the confusion by girding my former washboard abs with a Flusser blue ostrich o-ring strap.
I never bought a Ruff Hewn knit shirt in a retail store and certainly never bought one because of the logo. RHYC? The Ruff Hewn Yacht Club? Please. Even though my daddy, my gaindaddy, my gait gaindaddy and my gait-gait gaindaddy were all members, I chose long ago to use the Groucho Marx sieve for filtering my club options.
Reading Pennsylvania. My late 1980’s New Jersey cohorts and I would drive to the outlets in Reading on occasional Sundays. We’d pile in a car, usually not mine because a 1986 Jetta didn’t hold too many of our gang and I was usually too hunked-over from the previous evening’s, usually Gotham debauchery, to drive.We were mainly headed there to check out the Polo Ralph outlet and a couple of others but then we wandered into the Ruff Hewn store. None of us knew what it was. Some kind of J.Crew wannabe perhaps?
And certainly they sold other things. Khakis, sweaters, button downs, rugby shirts. But none of it interested me or, as I recall, any of my posse. Quite frankly, the knit shirts wouldn't have interested me either. I was still wearing my Lacoste knits from college—at least the ones that were holding up ok and immutably by this time, the Polo Ralph knit was standard fare.
But they were ten bucks each. “Small imperfections” they said. I never found any to speak of and if I did, they weren’t deal breakers. Nobody had any idea how long they’d last and who cared at two fins a throw? Made in the U.S.A. to boot.
So at one point we all had a pile of these knit shirts in an array of colors. Here’s one of my other N.J. corporate indentured servant minions, JBA (R.I.P.) sporting one of the Ruffs at a company boondoggle on Marco Island. I have no idea what kind of rig I had on that evening. The allsiest thing I know is that I’d been on the beach for eight hours. I traipsed in and showered and throwed on a cotton sweater ‘cause I was late for the cocktail thing. And I do recall that this was my Drambuie Phase. Dig the watch. It’s my Patek Pho-cheap. Undoubtedly from somewhere on Canal Street. Shut up. I was twenty nine years old. Buck up and show us some of your twenty nine year old mélange.
Fast forward a few years and I ended up in Washington D.C. So did my New Jersey corporate indentured servant wingman JTS. And JTS, his wife AES and I discovered the Blue Ridge Outlets in Martinsburg West Virginia; about as equidistant as our old Montclair NJ…Reading Pa outlet jaunt was from previous years. So once again we had a Ruff Hewn source. But the arrogant mugwumps now had the audacity to charge about fifteen dollars a throw for them.
I might have shared before what a loyal friend JTS is to me. The effer called me every day during the darkest moments of my divorce process. Not to engage me in any kind of maudlin esoteric examination of my purpose for living and to recommend a couple of self-pity maintenance books. Nope. The phone calls went like this… “Ok you little shit, bathe AND shave. Go to the office…DO NOT sit your sorry ass at home in your robe. EAT …and why not make it a greasy burger for lunch at the deli on Washington Street. I’ll pick you up from your office at 530 and we’ll go eat again. Now kiss my as_ and stop crying.” Folks, friends like that are the ones you need in moments of inflection. You can find plenty of the other type who, in their unwitting way, will jump in your hot tub of pity and splash around with you till your fingers, toes and gumption are more than pruny. But not my man JTS. I’m forever in his debt.
JTS is a UVA man and when he and I got promoted and ended up in DC we inevitably found ourselves in the Charlottesville realm for fun and frolic. Here above is my man JTS and little ole Ruff Hewn wearin’ ADG at some Point-to-Point or Steeplechase thang near Charlottesville. I don’t remember too much about this event but I do recall that the tittie-twister that JTS just exacted on me is the reason why in this picture, I’m howling. And the other thing I recall from that day-evening is that the County Sheriffs who were lording over this event use those same little zip-tie plastic handcuffs that the Ocean Drive S.C. beach cops used on me in college. Oh, and one other thing, don’t do tittie-twisters on anyone. They hurt like hell and can cause cancer.
So fast forward these twenty-plus years and I’ve blown through a lot of things. Money, marriage, cars, clothes, collectibles and friends. There’s been a lot of churn in my previous few decades and most of it good. But for some odd reason, two Ruff Hewn knits remain with me. The proverbial “if they could talk” speculation is beyond my comprehension today so I’ll just close this ramble…swathed in the other remnant of a two-decade run. Another survivor of the churn…my navy blue Hewn.
Onward. Ruffly. ADG II